MCAD Tech News (#242)

11 Jun, 2008

The Ribbon Man, Part 1

An interview with Autodesk's Matt Stein about the much-discussed ribbon interface in AutoCAD 2009.

By Steve Johnson

The new face of AutoCAD 2009 represents the biggest user interface overhaul since Release 13. The ribbon is the most prominent of many interface changes, and for some users it's the most controversial. The man responsible for making the ribbon work in AutoCAD is senior product designer Matt Stein. In this two-part series, Cadalyst contributing editor Steve Johnson talks with Stein about how the ribbon and other new user-interface (UI) elements made their way into AutoCAD.

Matt Stein
Matt Stein earned a bachelor of science degree in computer science from the University of California Santa Barbara. He started as an Autodesk intern at age 14 and has worked his way through a variety of roles to his current position as a senior product designer on the AutoCAD team.

Steve Johnson (SJ): Matt, what exactly do you do?

Matt Stein (MS): As a product designer, my primary responsibility is designing and researching new features for AutoCAD. This process typically goes through many phases: a research phase, a conceptual design phase, and a detailed specification phase, along with substantial usability and customer validation across all phases. I work with customers and am in contact with them at every phase of the product cycle. My team comprises subject matter experts, interaction designers, and user researchers.

SJ: How do you interact with other Autodesk teams?

MS: There are two primary types of interaction with other Autodesk teams: interaction with teams working on AutoCAD and with teams outside of AutoCAD.

In my role working with feature teams, the product designer takes the product requirements defined by product management and begins to explore possible design solutions. Once an overall concept for a feature has been chosen and reviewed by the key stakeholders, feature development gets under way. Meanwhile, the designer is completing a very detailed specification of the design that details all of the interactions and functionality. AutoCAD is a large program with many considerations to take into account for even the smallest of features.  Read more »

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Steve Johnson is a contributing editor of
Cadalyst, owner of cad nauseam and a vice-president of CADLock, Inc. E-mail:


Tech Trends:
Community Building in Progress

By Kenneth Wong

Around Valentine's Day in February 2005, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim decided to create a video-enabled version of the dating site As a result, the 20-something trio gave birth to the popular video-sharing site YouTube. They probably had no idea their brainchild would become a sizzling property, worth $1.65 billion to Google ("The Gurus of YouTube," Time, December 16, 2006). Today, if you're willing to wade through the sea of videos featuring celebrities in compromising positions and teenagers lip-synching to The Backstreet Boys, you'll come across free tutorials on the Boundary feature in SolidWorks, the Sweep command in Inventor, and Mating protocols — that is, mating assembly parts in CAD programs.

MySpace and Facebook, two rival social networking sites, now are home to several emerging CAD groups, including CADWorx (10 members, MySpace), The CADMasters (29 members, MySpace), and CATIA Users Group (79 members, Facebook). What begins as a discussion thread about 32-bit vs. 64-bit computing can quickly spiral into a bantering session. On Facebook, someone from the "SolidWorks is Awesome" group (388 members) comes to the defense of his beloved software in the "SolidWorks Sucks" group's forum (65 members). Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

24th Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference (CMSC)
July 21-25, 2008
Charlotte-Concord, North Carolina
The CMSC is the only North American conference dedicated solely to users of portable, high-precision measurement technology used to inspect manufactured and assembled components on the factory floor. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on